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Yvette Guilbert Scala - Ferdinand BacTales of the Cocktail 2009 is finishing up today. One of the highlights yesterday was the unveiling of Crème Yvette by Cooper Spirits International of St-Germain fame. Crème Yvette is a liqueur with a blend of berries, vanilla and other spices, and violets. According to Dr. Cocktail it was originally named after Yvette Guilbert, a singer/actress in Paris at the turn of the 20th century. It has been unavailable for the most part since the 1960s and, from what I’ve heard from others, was the preferred violet liqueur – much better than Crème de Violette or Parfait Amour.

The tasting room that was set up at Tales had the lights turned low, was clad in black, fitted with about half-a-dozen high cafe tables and stools, and had a single bar in spotlight where Jamie Boudreau was mixing up Aviations and Blue Moons.

The new Crème Yvette is sexy from the start – the bottle is buxom and beautiful. Unfortunately due to the lighting and the crowd I couldn’t get a picture (although you can find a picture in a Time Out NY article from earlier this year). I sampled an Aviation, which unfortunately featured the maraschino liqueur more than the Crème Yvette. I can’t wait until Crème Yvette hits the shelves so that I can try out some drinks on my own such as:

    Blue Moon Variation from CocktailDB
    1½ oz Gin
    1 egg white
    ¾ oz lemon juice
    ¼ oz Crème Yvette

    Shake over ice and strain into cocktail glass.

    Violet Fizz adapted from Dr. Cocktail (Ted Haigh)
    1½ oz Gin
    ½ oz Crème Yvette
    1 oz lemon juice
    ½ oz sugar
    Soda water

    Combine gin, Crème Yvette, lemon juice, and sugar in shaker; add ice; shake; and strain into highball glass filled with ice. Top off with soda water.

    Attention adapted from Jamie Boudreau’s recipe in July/August 2007 Imbibe
    2 oz gin
    ¼ oz dry vermouth
    ¼ oz Crème Yvette
    ¼ oz Herbasint, Pernod or other pastis
    2 dashes orange bitters
    Lemon twist

    Combine all ingredients except for twist in a mixing glass. Fill with cracked ice and stir for 30 seconds (or until frost develops on the glass). Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with lemon twist.

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German ChamomileSpring delivered me a sweet nosegay of chamomile from my garden, and offered me a great opportunity to experiment with floral cocktails. I love a soothing cup of chamomile tea and the scent brings back memories of summers in Germany where my aunt and uncle would have a huge(!) cup of tea each evening after dinner. Unfortunately, in the land of cocktails there are few offerings utilizing the lovely “mayweed.”

Square One Vodka has the Goodnight Ginger, created by founder Allison Evanow, which actually uses a chamomile myrtle tea to infuse the vodka:

    Goodnight Ginger
    2 oz Square One Organic Vodka infused with Numi Organic Chamomile Lemon Myrtle Teasan
    2 oz fresh lemon juice
    1/8 tsp fresh grated ginger
    1 oz organic agave nectar
    Splash of Vya Extra-Dry Vermouth

    Put all ingredients in a cocktail shaker with crushed ice. Shake vigorously for 15 seconds.
    Strain into a martini glass and garnish with a lemon twist.

Additionally, I came across a blog by Kelly Hightower who posted a recipe for a chamomile-infused rum punch:

    Flor de Caña Flip Flop Punch
    2 ozs Chamomile infused Flor De Caña 4-year old Rum
    4 sugar cubes
    3 oz club soda
    1 oz lemon juice
    1½ oz grapefruit juice

    Dissolve 4 sugar cubes in 1 oz of club soda (this generally involves muddling to help process). After sugar cubes are muddled/dissolved, add the rest of the ingredients except for the club soda one at a time and stir as added. Add ice once all of the ingredients have been added and stirred. Stir the punch until it is chilled. Top with remaining (2 oz) club soda and garnish with grapefruit slices.

Jamie Boudreau, who seemingly has a cocktail aligning with all my random musings, has a wonderful scotch-based sour:

    Chamomile Sour
    2 oz chamomile scotch
    ¾ oz lemon juice
    ½ oz simple syrup
    1 small egg white

    Place all ingredients in shaker and froth with cappuccino blade. Add ice and shake hard. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

According to Kelly, she made the chamomile-infused rum by adding 4 bar spoons of loose chamomile tea to 1 bottle of rum, letting it sit for an hour and 45 minutes, straining out the tea, and funneling the infused rum back into the bottle for storage.

Jamie’s instructions to make the chamomile scotch are: place half of an ounce of dried chamomile flowers into a jar with a bottle of scotch (e.g. Famous Grouse), let sit for 20 minutes, and then filter the chamomile from the scotch.

I actually tired two experiments with my fresh-picked chamomile: vodka (Absolut 100) and rum (Flor de Caña Gold 4 y.o. ). For each I used approximately two dozen flowers where most of the stems and petals had been removed. I placed these in my canning jars with 4 ounces of spirit. I let each infuse for a week in my refrigerator; agitating daily. I strained the infusions through coffee filters and bottled.

Spring-boarding from the flavors represented in both the Goodnight Ginger and the Flip Flop Punch, I tried making a cocktail using the chamomile-infused rum, Domaine de Canton, grapefruit juice, honey syrup, and bitters. However, the chamomile was too strong and I couldn’t find a combination that was enjoyable. If I were to do rum again, I wouldn’t let the flowers steep so long.

However, the chamomile vodka turned out wonderful – really like a pure, fresh tea. In the spirit of celebrating the flavors of Spring in the South, I combined fresh Texas peaches with the vodka to create:

Peach PoseyPeach Posey

1 small peach
2-3 teaspoons sugar
1½ oz chamomile-infused vodka
½ oz lemon juice
3 dashes Peychaud bitters

Slice the peach (reserving one slice for garnish) and muddle with sugar adjusting the amount of sugar based on the sweetness of the peach. Add vodka, lemon juice, bitters, and ice; shake hard and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with the reserved peach slice.

Here’s to Spring’s bounty!

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